Some think that Responsible Bidding is just a union issue that
the building trades push to get an advantage in the bidding process.
The reality is that the word union does not appear anywhere in
a Responsible Bidder Ordinance. Any contractor can meet the
requirements - the idea is to make the process fair to all law-abiding
If the unions are indeed the ones promoting the implementation
of Responsible Bidder Ordinances, it’s not about getting an advantage,
it’s about fairness. You can certainly understand the frustration
felt by a contractor - union or non - that loses a bid because
of the competition’s willingness to break laws; especially on publicly funded work.
“Responsible Bidding ensures public dollars go to contractors,
union and non-union, that adhere to a set of accountability
measures and bring well-trained employees to the job.” - Illinois State Senator Terry Link
In sum, it’s not a union issue, it’s a fairness issue. Still
not convinced? Let’s explore further.
• Appreticeship Programs
• Bipartisan Support
• Contractor Support
This is the clause in the Responsible Bidder Ordinance
that many think excludes non-union contractors. The apprenticeship clause
will typically read something to the effect of:
“The bidder must participate in an applicable apprenticeship and training program approved by and registered with the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship and
Training.” The preceding is not a mandate for using organized labor for the
project to which it applies. Apprenticeship programs are recognized
by the United States Department
of Labor, not labor unions.
true that nearly all labor unions have apprenticeship programs
that meet the qualifications - most have for years because they
and their signatory contractors recognize the benefits of a properly
trained work force. But any private company can offer them. All
apprenticeship programs are privately run but government recognized and overseen.
See the “Apprenticeship Info” section of this website for more
on Apprenticeship Programs.
There is support for Responsible Bidding
on both sides of the aisle because in the end, they know it’s
about fairness and value in public construction, not union vs.
non-union. RBO’s are widely viewed as simply being good government
policy, not a partisan issue.
are what a few Illinois Republicans have said about Responsible
“Citizens get the best value when those applying for public
work compete fairly and agree to follow all relevant regulations.”
Illinois State Representative Robert Pritchard
“In passing this ordinance, not only will a higher quality
product be offered, the safety of the community will be ultimately
- Illinois State Representatives Michael McAulliffe,
Bill Mitchell, Don Moffitt, JoAnn D. Osmond, and Angelo Saviano
Contrary to a perception of Responsible Bidding simply
being a union issue, or just more restrictions and hurdles
for contractors, we have received support from a variety of
employer associations. These are groups of contractors that
realize the benefits of achieving success based on their efficiency,
not their willingness to cut corners:
» Illinois Small Pavers Association
» Lake County Contractors Association
» Contractors’ Association of Will & Grundy Counties
» Underground Contractors Association of Illinois
» National Electrical Contractors Association - Eastern Illinois
» Finishing Contractors Association of Illinois
Aside from these written endorsements from Contractors Associations,
a common theme we hear from contractors is that the presence
of an RBO, and the level playing field that it creates, encourages
them to be more willing to bid on that work. The best contractors
like to see RBO’s in place, which, in the end, this provides
a more competitive bidding landscape and a better overall